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Macleans

Nasa's Columbia Shuttle Disaster

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on February 10, 2003. Partner content is not updated.

FOR LONG MINUTES, the crowd of family, friends, dignitaries and spectators stood at the end of the airstrip in Cape Canaveral, Fla., waiting and hoping for a familiar white speck in the distant blue sky. By the time the countdown clock reached zero, it was clear the reunion would never come.

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Time

Precise timekeeping helped establish and develop Canada. For the past 2 centuries, Canadian exploration, mapping, navigation and transportation have exploited state-of-the-art precise time systems.

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Meteors, Meteorites and Impact Craters

The solar system contains many objects smaller than the planets (or their satellites) travelling in individual orbits about the SUN; space between the planets also contains myriad dust grains in the micron size range. Near Earth, dust concentrations are only a few hundred particles per cubic kilometre, but 35 000 to 100 000 t of extraterrestrial material enters the atmosphere annually, swept up by our planet from debris that is in its path or crosses its path.

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Space Technology

An agreement signed with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) led to the launching of a series of 4 Canadian satellites, beginning with Alouette 1 (on 29 Sept 1962) from the Western Test Range in Vandenburg, California.

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Satellite Communications

Characteristics A typical satellite consists of a number of repeaters (transponders), each of which provides a large-capacity communication channel. Each transponder has a receiver tuned to a frequency range that has been allocated for uplink communication signals from Earth to the satellite.

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Moon

The dark grey lunar surface reflects only 7% of the sunlight it receives (comparable to the reflectivity of black soil). The moon is dominated by thousands of craters, ranging from microscopic pits to gigantic Clavius, diameter 230 km.

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Sonar

Sonar (sound navigation and ranging), method for locating objects by the reflection of sound waves. It is used naturally by such animals as BATS and DOLPHINS to locate food and obstacles.

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Physics

Physics is the study of matter and radiation, the space-time continuum that contains them, and the forces to which they are subject.

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Montréal Planetarium

​Montréal’s Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is part of the Space for Life complex, which includes Montréal’s Biodome, Insectarium and Botanical Gardens. Space for Life is the largest natural science museum complex in Canada.

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Galaxy

Serious attempts to estimate the size of the galaxy began in the 19th century.

Macleans

Space Travel Challenges

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on October 14, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

For mankind, the adventure began at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time on April 12, 1961. A Soviet air force major named Yuri Gagarin blasted into the Siberian sky aboard a five-ton spacecraft and the world marvelled at the astounding news that he had landed safely after circling the Earth in just 108 minutes.

Macleans

Life on Mars?

It was an evening in summer upon the placid and temperate planet Mars. Up and down green wine canals, boats as delicate as bronze flowers drifted ....

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Meteorology

Physical meteorology links meteorology and physics in studies of 3 core topics: electromagnetic radiation, meteorological thermodynamics and cloud physics. Related topics include stratospheric physics, atmospheric electricity, optics and ACOUSTICS.

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Observatory

Of the observatories in use before the invention of the telescope, perhaps the most scientifically productive was that of Tycho Brahe, built 400 years ago on the island of Hveen in the Baltic Sea.

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Astrophysics

Astrophysicists use many branches of physics: nuclear physics to study power-generation in stars; atomic physics to understand the spectra of stars and gaseous nebulae; and gas laws and magnetic theory to probe starspots and flares on star surfaces.

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Astronomy

Modern astronomy, however, is more concerned with the physical and chemical nature of matter beyond Earth, where conditions of temperature and pressure, and gravitational and magnetic fields allow astronomers to observe matter under extremes unattainable in terrestrial laboratories.